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ARGENTINA

expedition handbook

DATES: 18 Feb01 Mar 2018 COST: £3,199 TEAM CLOSES: 02 Feb

This Handbook contains everything you need to know about this Cultural Immersion Secret Compass expedition to Argentina.

Read on to discover our ethos and team-centred approach and for the nitty gritty like flight and visa advice, insurance requirements and kit recommendations. Use the buttons below to ask questions or to apply for this team or, once approved, to secure your spot on this expedition team with a Booking Form and a £400 deposit.

Key facts

  • Arrive: by 1000 on 18 February 2018 into Neuquen.
  • Depart: leave Neuquen any time from 1900 on 1 March 2018 onwards.
  • Insurance: Ensure you have comprehensive cover.
  • Docs: send your flight, insurance and passport copy in.
  • Balance due: 90 days before departure on 18 November 2017.
  • Find FAQ and Testimonials online.

Aim

The cultural aim of this immersive, hands-on expedition is to experience life as an Argentinian gaucho – a hard-working South American cowboy. The secondary, physical aim is to reach the dormant volcanic region of Cerro Negro, at the culmination of a multi-day horseback trip made in traditional gaucho style.

Summary

You’ll be several hours by car (and three more on horseback) from the next settlement. This underlines the independent and self-sufficient nature of life as a gaucho on an estancia that makes the very most of its abundant natural resources.
Initially you’ll get involved in a period of estancia-based activities – from fishing and riding to farming and blacksmithing. Next, you’ll embark on an exploratory pack trip into the remote volcanic peaks at the estancia’s furthest edge, on the border with Chile. On this self-sufficient, expedition-styled journey, you’ll wild camp beneath Patagonian stars and share fireside anecdotes with your fellow adventurers and local support team. The team will also call in at the ‘puesto’ or summer pasture to learn about the life of the ‘puesteros’ who live there all summer.

Highlights

  • Develop or learn new skills on a remote, working estancia.
  • Experience the unstaged daily life of a gaucho.
  • Learn to ride or improve horsemanship skills.
  • Practice river fishing – gaucho style.
  • Help the experts at the sawmill, leather workshop or forge.
  • Prepare for an extended pack trip (on horseback).
  • Explore the vast estancia on foot and horseback.
  • Carry out perimeter inspections at the estancia’s edge.
  • Wild camp in the foothills of the Andes.
  • Learn to load and work with mules.
  • Look out for condors riding the thermals from Cerro Negro’s summit.
  • Enjoy delicious organic food straight from the estancia gardens.

Flights

You need to organise your own international flights. We have a unique partnership with Student Universe (a specialist division of the Flight Centre Travel Group and no, you don’t have to be a student to use them). The dedicated Secret Compass team understand us, our destinations and use global buying power to save you money and offer security along with a 24-hour assistance helpline. Fill in a free, no-obligation Flight Request Form here or call (UK) 0844 560 9799 for assistance in booking international flights.

It is advised that you book a flexible flight ticket that can be changed or refunded if the expedition dates are changed or if it is cancelled for any reason. See our online Terms and Conditions.

You need to be in Neuquen airport by 1000 on the 18th February 2018 and the expedition officially ends at 1900 on the 1st March 2018 (you will be driven back to Neuquen in time for the 1925 flight out).

Insurance

Travel insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all expeditions. You should be aware that many standard insurance policies may not cover you adequately for all aspects of a remote expedition and so we strongly recommend that you purchase a suitably designed insurance policy. Secret Compass cannot comment on the suitability of your cover so if you are in any doubt please contact your policy provider and ask them to confirm that you are covered to our minimum standard (below).

  • Emergency medical repatriation (to home country) including any associated expenses abroad of at least $500,000.
  • Activities: ensure that any expedition activities are included, these could be trekking, horse riding, rafting, MTB etc.
  • Geographical region: check the geographical region you are going to is insured (often the US and Canada or countries such as Afghanistan are not insured).
  • Foreign Ministry advice: check your insurance is not sensitive to any travel warnings issued by your respective foreign ministry. In the UK, many insurers will not insure you when the Foreign Office warns against travel to this area. Foreign Office advice will not necessarily mean we cancel an expedition or do not travel to a particular area. Please check @FCOtravel and the Travel Aware site.
  • Dates: make sure the period of cover begins at the departure and ends at the return to your home country. Many flights take a day or two and time zones vary. Insurance companies may prejudice your claims due to this.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions: disclose these to your insurance company and to Secret Compass.

You must bring a copy of your insurance policy, showing that you are covered for horse riding, with you on this expedition.

Prior to travel Secret Compass will require the name of your insurance policy provider, their 24-hour emergency contact number and your policy number. For full information on travel insurance and links to suggested companies, please visit the insurance page on our website.

Visas

Visas are your responsibility and may take several weeks. Please check the entry requirements for your specific nationality. British and EU Nationals can enter Argentina without a visa as a tourist for up to 90 days. US, Australian and Canadian nationals do not require a visa however they must pay a USD160 reciprocity fee prior to arrival in Argentina, payments can be made online. Once paid, print out the receipt and present it to the Argentine immigration office at the time of entry.

Passports

All expedition members should have valid passports with six months remaining. Please send a clear, colour copy of your passport to Secret Compass ahead of the expedition and carry photocopies with you on the expedition in a safe place.

Day 1: Feb 18 – Neuquen

Meet your expedition leader and the team at Neuquen airport for 1000. The morning flight from Buenos Aires lands at 0900 or you may prefer to arrive the day before. Drive six hours to the outskirts of the estancia where the road ends before meeting the estancia workers with your horses and mules for the three hour ride into the campsite.

Day 2 – 5: Feb 19 – 22 – Estancia

After settling in and exploring the immediate surroundings, immerse yourself in the daily rituals of gaucho life. The team will be involved in all the estancia activities including, but not limited to; building and woodworking, cattle herding, fishing, blacksmithing, leatherworking and, of course, riding. This is the ideal time to unplug, unwind and work on your horsemanship ahead of the pack trip.

Day 6 – 10: Feb 23 – 27 – Estancia (pack trip)

Putting your freshly acquired skills to use, the team will set out on a pack trip through the estancia, helping with vital survey work before the winter months set in and traversing corners of the estate which even the owners rarely visit. As part of this trip the team will be wild camping, washing in streams and incorporating walks to the top of Cerro Negro, an extinct volcano, before lighting a fire to prepare the evening meal and whiling away the night with tall stories and stargazing.

Day 11: Feb 28 – Estancia

Return to the main camp for hot showers and a celebratory asado with your local guides and instructors.

Day 12: Mar 1 – Neuquen

Bid farewell to the estancia and ride out for three hours to the road where you will be driven back to Neuquen in time for the 1925 flight out. If you prefer to extend your stay, Neuquen is famous for its various dinosaur fossil sites with several museums and active excavations.

About Secret Compass itineraries

Please remember that this itinerary acts as a framework plan. It provides guidance as to our intentions but may not be followed religiously. This is an adventure and by definition the outcome is uncertain. The leadership team will adapt, flex and change the plan depending on the numerous frictions you may encounter along the way.

Fitness

All our expeditions are achievable by people with an active and healthy lifestyle. However, this is a physically demanding expedition with long days in the saddle and hard work around the estancia and at times you will be sore, tired, hungry and possibly wet! You must be prepared physically and mentally for the expedition and for living in basic conditions for the duration. Please ensure that you train for the expedition and arrive fit and ready to go (see our Expedition Training Guide). You will be required to be fit enough for the following.

  • Expedition Grade: 180°.
  • Daily activity: varies but up to approx. 8 hours per day.
  • Walk: up to 15km a day completing tasks around the estancia and exploring.
  • Carry: up to 10kg. (Carrying personal gear for the day and any tools required).
  • Ride: up to seven hours a day for multiple days, with breaks to stretch your legs, and with the willingness to learn to a standard of cantering if you are not already a proficient rider.
  • Terrain: over undulating, rough terrain including fording rivers.
  • Climate: in an exposed yet temperate climate.

Previous experience

At a basic level, you should be comfortable jogging for at least 45 minutes and be able to walk for 8 hours per day in the British hills or similar carrying 10kg for at least three consecutive days. For this specific trip, previous horse riding experience is not essential but would be beneficial, if you have not ridden before we would recommend booking at least an introductory lesson to ensure you will be comfortable with multiple days in the saddle on this expedition.

Medical

Vaccinations. Please seek advice from your health professional on recommended vaccinations. The NHS Fit For Travel site and Travel Health Pro are both useful.

Dental. It is strongly recommended that you have a dental check up prior to departure. Dental problems far from help are very unpleasant.

Money

The official currency is the Argentine Peso (AR$). Secret Compass recommends you bring US dollars in large and small denominations and change for local currency on arrival in the airport or exchange places in town if you are arriving ahead of the expedition.

This expedition is all-inclusive so you won’t need much money, just for a beer in the town and some souvenirs on the way or for (discretionary but always appreciated) tips.

Secret Compass always suggest carrying an emergency fund of $100-$200 in cash.

The following is Secret Compass’s recommended kit list for the 2018 expedition to Argentina. Some items are vital so please read carefully and contact Secret Compass with any questions. Secret Compass will provide all of the group equipment and tents.

Discounts

Secret Compass have arranged team members discounts with Cotswold Outdoor, Nordic Life, Outdoor Hire and Expedition Kit Hire, details of these will be sent through on booking.

Baggage and sleeping

  • RUCKSACK OR DUFFLE: 50-70ltr, all personal kit needs to fit in one soft bag for loading on mules and in vehicles.
  • DAYPACK: A small pack (around 25 ltr) for your daily items whilst working around the estancia.
  • WATERPROOF RUCKSACK LINER: Sealable “canoe” or “dry” bags made by Podsac or Ortlieb etc.
  • SMALLER DRY BAGS: As above, but smaller bags to put essential items in. The large rucksack liners sometimes leak so anything important needs to be waterproofed individually.
  • SLEEPING BAG: Rated to 0°C comfort, the temperature can drop at night.
  • SLEEPING BAG LINER (Optional): Silk or cotton, if there are unseasonably warm nights these can be useful as a lighter alternative to your sleeping bag
  • SLEEPING MAT: Thermarest or equivalent. Bring repair kit.

Clothing

  • 2 x TREKKING SHIRTS: Thin trekking shirts or equivalent that dry quickly. Long sleeves to provide insect and sun protection.
  • 1 X THERMAL BASE LAYER: Long sleeved thermal top. Helly Hansen or equivalent, particularly useful for the evenings.
  • 2 X LONG TREKKING TROUSERS: Thin trekking trousers or shorts/zip off trousers that dry quickly and are comfortable for everyday use around the estancia.
  • 1 X RIDING TROUSERS: Jodhpurs are ideal as they have a patch covering the inner seam to avoid friction with the saddle. Shorts and baggy trousers will not be comfortable.
  • 1 x MID LAYER: Fleece or equivalent.
  • 1 x INSULATED JACKET: Down or synthetic that packs down small, it may be cold in the evenings when the team are sitting out.
  • CASUAL CLOTHES (Optional): Comfortable jeans etc for the communal evening meals when at your main camp.
  • 1 x WATERPROOF JACKET AND TROUSERS: Gore-tex or equivalent.
  • 1 x WALKING BOOTS: Must provide ankle support and be worn in before the expedition. These will be used during tasks on the estancia and may also be used for riding if you don’t already have riding boots (boots with a slight heel and not too much grip).
  • 4 x HIKING SOCKS (Optional)
  • SANDLES: Around camp, river crossings and in the evenings. Flip flops are not advised and trekking sandals with toe protection can be useful.
  • WIDE BRIMMED SUN HAT (Optional)
  • WARM HAT FOR EVENINGS (Optional)
  • GLOVES (Optional)
  • 4 x UNDERWEAR: Sport or low-friction shorts don’t chafe.
  • SWIMWEAR (Optional)

Eating

  • LARGE BOWL
  • MUG
  • KNIFE, FORK, SPOON
  • 2 x ROBUST WATER BOTTLE: Nalgene or Sigg are recommended.
  • 1 x CAMELBACK: You need to be able to carry a minimum of three ltrs of water in a combination of camelback and water bottles.

Health and Hygiene

  • WASHBAG: Essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, deodorant etc.) packed in a small bag.
  • SOAP (Optional): Anti-bacterial and biodegradable. Consider Lifeventure All-Purpose Soap concentrate which is also PH balanced.
  • TRAVEL TOWEL/SARONG (Optional): Fast-drying.
  • WET WIPES/BABY WIPES (Optional)
  • ANTIBACTERIAL HANDGEL
  • TOILET PAPER (Optional): Travel tissues
  • SANITARY PRODUCTS (Optional): Bring nappy sacks and zip-lock bags as you will not be able to dispose of these on the pack trip.
  • LIP SALVE WITH UV PROTECTION
  • VASELINE: Keep readily available to prevent chafing skin and heel friction blisters.
  • INSECT REPELLENT (Optional)
  • AFTER SUN/MOISTURISER (Optional)
  • FACTOR 30+ SUN CREAM

Small First Aid Kit

A team medical kit with a comprehensive primary care provision will be carried.

  • WATERPROOF BAG OR TUPPERWARE BOX: Keep kit dry and safe.
  • PAIN KILLERS: Ibuprofen and paracetamol.
  • ZINC OXIDE TAPE AND SMALL SCISSORS
  • COMPEED BLISTER PADS: Please note that Compeed produce several similar-looking blister packs for corns, etc. Please ensure you purchase the standard / original item.
  • SUDOCREM: Great product for preventing/treating saddles sores/chafing.
  • DIAHORREA TABLETS: Immodium
  • REHYDRATION PACKS: Dioralyte sachets only make up small volumes of rehydration concentrate. Consider (non-caffeinated) Nuun or Zero tablets instead.
  • ANTISEPTIC WIPES
  • ANTISEPTIC CREAM
  • PIRITON TABLETS: For allergies
  • EURAX CREAM: For bites
  • ANY MEDICATION YOU NORMALLY USE: Find out the generic/chemical name for your medication in case you need to source more in-country. Please also check that your medication is legal in your destination. You MUST make Secret Compass aware of any medical conditions before you travel.

Other

  • RIDING HELMET (Optional): If you have your own riding helmet, you may prefer to bring this with you or Secret Compass can supply them.
  • RIDING GLOVES (Optional): Full finger gloves, usually with grippy palms and fingers.
  • WORK GLOVES: For day-to-day use around the estancia.
  • HEAD TORCH AND SPARE BATTERIES: Petzl Tikka head torch or equivalent. Please bring plenty of spare batteries as there are no charging facilities.
  • SUNGLASSES WITH UV-FILTER LENSES (Optional)
  • PENKNIFE (Optional)
  • Gaffa Tape (Optional): For emergency repairs to your kit, you can take some off the roll and wrap it around something else in your kit.
  • 1 x KARABINER: For securing your rucksack to vehicles, clipping your boots together, holding your knife sheath etc.
  • SPARE BOOT LACES (Optional)
  • SMALL SEWING KIT
  • RE-SEALABLE PLASTIC BAGS (Optional): For dirty washing, wrappings, etc.

Our approach

Secret Compass organises expeditions, not sightseeing tours. Our expeditions are team-centred, flexible and dynamic. Teams are managed on the ground by Secret Compass staff: industry-leading professionals and guides of the highest calibre. They put the structure in place for your team to have an incredible experience while achieving your expedition’s aims. Our people are as passionate as you are about achieving the extraordinary in the world’s wildest places. Secret Compass teams often go to places that others don’t. This makes our expeditions truly different, taking you beneath the skin and beyond the headlines of the world’s most remote reaches. Inspired by history’s great explorers and challenges, you’ll be set ambitious goals and will overcome similar hardships to those experienced on the audacious journeys of the past.

Remember this is not an organised tour. It is an adventure. More often than not expeditions don’t run smoothly! The nature of the areas we operate in mean that we will encounter a number of challenges that we expect everyone to meet and relish. Friction and hurdles are all part and parcel of an arduous expedition and also to our success as a team. These make the journey more interesting and are often the best and most amusing parts when looking back. Each expedition is thoroughly reviewed on its return and team members will have the opportunity to provide feedback which helps to inform planning for future expeditions.

Local partners and bureaucracy

Our teammates can only achieve the extraordinary with the help of people in the communities we travel through. NGO and aid workers, guides, fixers and interpreters all work extremely hard and are generous in their hospitality to us and our teams: visitors in their land. They are crucial to our success. Please remember and respect that their perspectives and concepts of time, environmental responsibility and customer service might differ to yours. Occasionally there is no established protocol for outside visitors which means we encounter local power struggles or disagreements. Our leaders have years of experience in delicate negotiations like these and conversational chess – especially through an interpreter – and these interchanges are often memorable parts of any expedition.

Infrastructure and natural events

The areas we travel to often especially remote. Transport infrastructure can be ageing, inadequate or non-existent. Flooded roads, collapsed bridges, fallen trees and vehicle break-downs are all par for the course. Our teams thrive on overcoming challenges like these – be prepared to get stuck in and push occasionally! Natural phenomena like desert sand storms, early monsoons, landslides across key routes, winter coming early, gale force winds and driving snow can all make for a more interesting time on the expedition.

Food

In some areas our teams explore, we rely on local food sources. This can often be outstanding (but can also be very average) and we always make the best out of the resources available. In other cases, we will supply filling and high-calorie dehydrated expedition foods (ration packs).

Typical teammates

There really is no typical expedition member, though everyone needs to be fit, healthy and ready to take on the expedition’s aim by the time of departure. Participants range from 21 to 65+ in age and come from all over the world. Backgrounds include contract workers and engineers, IT specialists and students, teachers and literature lovers, journalists and keen photographers and so many more. What bonds our pioneering teams is their shared spirit of adventure and their sense of humour and positive outlook. A good teammate looks on the bright side when the 4×4 breaks down, the rain comes early and when a meal is distinctly pedestrian. Our teammates look out for each other, encourage each other and help each other when needed. Our teams have done us proud in working together to achieve their common goal: the aim of the expedition. If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right expedition company.

Part of a team

Secret Compass fosters a team mentality across all its expeditions and projects. Like all teams you will have a leader who will give direction to your progress. Crucial to your team’s success – especially when the going gets tough – is the attitude of the teammates working together to achieve the aim. You really are part of a team, not a cosseted guest on a tour. We ask teammates to muck in and help out any aspect of the expedition, from fetching water and helping to prepare and cook food, to carrying some group kit and equipment if required. The working language of all teams is English.

Teammate mentality

You need a robust, spirited and can-do attitude to cope with demanding days and rough camping in rugged and wild places. You’ll cover good daily distances (generally carrying your own kit and equipment), eating expedition foods or relying on local food sources. These elements combine to create the unique character of each expedition. On expedition, challenges, frictions and changes to plans are inevitable. Teammates should meet and relish these as an integral part of any arduous expedition and its ultimate success. Such things make the journey more interesting and are often most memorable parts when looking back.

Risk management

Secret Compass is an expedition company not a tour company. Expeditions contain inherent risk. This is part of the appeal for teammates. We do not make expeditions safe as, by definition, that is impossible. We construct and implement a three-staged risk management approach to reduce risk to what we perceive as a tolerable level.

  1. Risk assessment.
    We conduct a thorough risk assessment of potential hazards and threats that may be encountered on the expedition and provide recommendations to reduce the likelihood of harm occurring/ severity if it does occur.
  2. Safety plan.
    As part of our expedition plan, we detail actions to be taken to implement and resource the recommendations of the risk assessment. This includes a detailed medical and communications plan.
  3. Delivery.
    The expedition leader is responsible for dynamic risk management on the expedition itself.

Key risks.

Key risks encountered on this specific expedition include accidents whilst horseriding or other medical emergencies whilst in an remote environment, and manual handling injuries on the estancia. If you would like to see the full Risk Assessment for this expedition, please email info@secretcompass.com

Incident management and medical

As part of the safety plan, Secret Compass has a full incident and emergency plan for medical and other emergencies. This will be discussed in full at the arrival brief, so everyone is aware what action will be taken. In summary, incidences are usually managed on the ground by the expedition leader in the first instance with remote support from Secret Compass’s 24 hour Operations Room before evacuation to the nearest appropriate medical centre.

Informed consent

It is your responsibility to understand the risks associated with adventure travel in remote areas. You also must understand that medical evacuation will take an extended period of time (potentially up to 26 hours) and will require wilderness extraction techniques and long carries by stretcher. In-country search and rescue and emergency services are very basic or non-existent and the expedition will rely on internal resources for medical evacuation. By joining this expedition, you accept the risks associated with the venture. If you require any more information on specific risk management for this expedition, or would like to speak to us about our medical planning prior to the trip, please get in touch.

Testimonials

Read team Testimonials or watch this short video featuring expedition teammates (filmed on location in Ethiopia) for an insight into life on expedition.

Cultural

GAUCHOS: Most of the gauchos working on the estancia do not speak English so a lot of the team’s interaction will be with the other estancia workers and volunteers (this working estancia is home to a small amount of agricultural and hospitality staff plus volunteers and interns) unless you also want to practice your language skills. Every year there is a ‘llera’ – a true community event where local gauchos gather to show-off their prowess in the corrals, lassoing the young stock for branding in preparation for the sales. Whilst the exact dates for this event are decided at very short notice by the gauchos, we are hoping the team will be in position to observe the festivities.

DAILY LIFE: Our team are being offered an unusual opportunity to live and work alongside the Argentinian gauchos and estancia workers as the summer draws to a close. The estancia has its own sawmill, forge, gardens and herds so there are plenty of options to get stuck in. There are opportunities to learn new skills from building projects, knife forging, leather working and horse riding lessons to cooking and herding. The exact activities on offer will depend on the estancia requirements and weather at the time of your expedition.

Terrain

This expedition will explore the 100,000 acres of rolling grasslands and hills which make up the estancia’s land in the foothills of the Andes. Expect rough undulating terrain, rugged mountain trails and some river crossings.

Weather

The Neuquen province hugs the border with Chile and has a climate strongly affected by the Andes mountains. This results in a comparatively dry climate with temperatures in late February averaging 20C during the day and falling into single figures at night.

Transport

ROAD: After meeting at the airport the team will drive from Neuquen to the boundary of the estancia where the road ends. This will take around six hours on good roads and the team will take the same route back to Neuquen at the end of the expedition.

HORSEBACK: To reach the heart of the estancia and travel through its extensive holdings the team will use horses and mules. The initial transfer from the road to the campsite will be on horseback for around three hours and during the pack trip you can expect to spend up to six hours a day riding with regular breaks as you explore the 100,000 acre estancia. You do not need to have previous horse-riding experiences as you can learn to ride or develop your skills during the trip but you must be comfortable around animals and willing to take the plunge from day one. If you are an experienced rider there will be plenty of opportunity for more intensive rides during the first half of the expedition and there are a variety of mounts available for use for different experience levels.

Accommodation

Throughout this expedition the team will be camping. Whilst camped near the main lodge, there will be access to showers and bathrooms however during the pack trip you must be prepared for wilderness conditions. There will be very little opportunity to charge electronics and this is part of the relaxing, remote nature of the expedition which we hope you will embrace.
Reality of living rough for days: Occasionally people on our expeditions are not prepared for camping for multiple days. Living in these conditions can degrade your health if you do not look after yourself and increase fatigue if you are not used to living rough. You need to be highly organised so that your night and morning routine is done efficiently and quickly, even if you are stiff after a day in the saddle.

Food

All our food will be sourced in country and mainly from the estancia grounds itself with communal meals where you will be expected to contribute to the preparations. There will be opportunities to fish throughout the expedition and there is always the celebratory asado (bbq party) to look forward to. Dietary requirements can be accommodated but should be discussed with Secret Compass prior to booking.

Leader

You will have an experienced Secret Compass leader with you who has extensive experience of leading groups in remote locations and is familiar with this particular estancia.

Communications

Secret Compass staff will be carrying at least two methods of communication, usually a Satellite Phone and a DeLorme two-way communication device. These will be used for regular updates to head office and for emergencies.
Unfortunately, routine communication between team members and family/friends is not possible – please reassure them that no news is good news! If there is an emergency and someone needs to contact a team member, they can contact Secret Compass’s Operations Room on +44207 096 8428 who will endeavour to pass a message on within 24hours.
Cell Phone. Your mobile roaming will work in Neuquen and possibly at the perimeter of the estancia but you are unlikely to get a signal over the majority of the 100,000 acre site and there is no internet.

Here are some frequently asked questions that are specific to this expedition. Read our general FAQ too for questions such as ‘how do I join an expedition’ and more. Can’t find your answer? Contact SCHQ.

Do you need to be able to ride a horse?

No, but you need to be willing to learn to ride a horse up to cantering, as we describe. A few lessons in advance will set you in good stead. The journey to the estancia itself is a three-hour trip on horseback and horses are integral to the gaucho way of life. There is no way of avoiding the initial three-hour ride out to the estancia, and a large element of this experience will relate to horses. Gauchos are cowboys after all!

Can experienced riders join?

Absolutely. There are different types of mount available for different skill levels and for different tasks around the estancia. Activities are flexible while based out of the estancia so you could opt to do more horse-related activities (on horseback or concerning the horses and their tack), plus more challenging/ faster paced options can be worked in while on the pack trip so that riders of all speeds and skill levels are challenged.

Do I need riding boots?

If you have them bring them but these are not necessary, other sturdy boots will suffice. Ensure boots are comfortable and broken in.

Do I need jodhpurs?

If you have them, great, bring them. If not, then certain types of trousers will do instead – things to remember are that any seams will rub, and loose-fitting trousers aren’t great either as there’ll be movement and therefore friction. Stick with tighter fitting trousers (on no account shorts) and the fewer seams the better. You don’t need padded trousers.

What’s the riding style?

It’ll be gaucho style saddles, that is to say, neither Western nor English! They have a fleece on the top and are tightened with a system that uses no buckles. Learning to saddle a horse and to ride this way is part of the experience. Gaucho riding isn’t like English riding at all. It is practical and functional. It’s crossing rivers, getting through gates without getting off, rounding up other horses and just getting to work rather than dressage.

I’m a vegetarian. Can I join?

Teammates with dietary requirements are welcome to apply for this expedition and should state their specific requirements when applying. The food situation is outlined in the On Exped tab.

Can I arrive a day late?

As the Itinerary outlines, there is a chain of transport to get teammates to the location where the expedition will commence, so start and end dates are not flexible.

Can I charge electricals?

Once the expedition phase begins, there will be no access to mains power. Please ensure that you are self-sufficient in terms of charging your appliances by bringing things like spare batteries, lightweight solar panels or power packs to avoid frustration.

Will there be telephone signal?

Your mobile roaming will work in Neuquen and possibly at the perimeter of the estancia but you are unlikely to get a signal over the majority of the 100,000 acre site and there is no internet.

Do you provide further advice?

You might find our Get Ready section useful, with further advice about fitness, flights, travel insurance, visas and our approach to risk management.

Can I bring my own tent?

Shared tents are provided or you can bring your own if you prefer and have a suitable lightweight tent. Or if the weather allows you can sleep under the stars.

How can I apply?

Use the buttons below to contact Secret Compass with your questions or to complete our no-obligation Application Form to join this team. Someone will get back to you promptly.

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